Monday, March 23, 2015

The Vastness of Empty Space

I have always opined that the secret to the mysteries of life are contained in the synapses of the brain across which neurotransmitters communicate to ensure our survival. Recent discoveries of mine have given credibility to this theory.

Man's Temporal Heavens

We have a bisected brain with two separate selves -- essentially a divided organism, each with its own memories and its own will, competing for control.

Most of what they vie to control originates in the gray matter of the cerebral cortex. The cortex, less than a quarter inch thick, measures about two and a half square feet and weighs approximately twenty ounces. This "bark" of flesh is composed of six layers of cells meshed in some ten thousand miles of connecting fibers per cubic inch. About ten billion pyramidal, spindle and stellate cells spangle the cortex like twinkling galaxies.

Electrochemically Speaking

Surrounding neurons are special cells known as glia. They act as a buffer between the brain's blood vessels and the neurons, providing nourishment and consuming waste. They also insulate, separating each nerve cell from the others. 

The only parts of neurons not covered by glial cells are the synapses, the juncture across which nerve impulses travel from one nerve cell to another. At the synapse the electrical impulses convert into chemical signals, then back to electrical.

When a neuron's dendrites pick up an impulse from a neighboring cell, a wave of electricity sweeps through. If the impulse is strong enough, it will trigger a response in the nerve's membrane, causing the cell to "fire." An exchange between potassium ions and sodium whips along the axon.

At the end of the axon, the impulse strikes the terminal buttons, which contain tiny tiny round sacs of synaptic vesicles. The sacs burst open, spilling chemical messengers called neurotransmitters into the narrow synapse. The neurotransmitters flow across the gap and lock onto the receptor sites of the receiving cell's dendrites.

And here is the fascinating part. 

Not every cell contacted by neurotransmitters fires. A typical neuron might have one thousand to ten thousand synapses, receiving information from as many as a thousand other neurons. To avoid a tangled confusion, some synapses are inhibitory, preventing the firing of the receiving cell. Others are excitatory and promote firing.

The synapse decides and here, my friends, is the seat of consciousness. Empty space. Vital empty space.

Information from "The Brain, Mystery of Matter and Mind"